The story of Mark and his passion for fitness…
Spin is still one of the most popular group exercise classes, running in gyms and studious throughout the world. Mark has spent 10 years teaching spin in many commercial gyms. He always kept to his own style of teaching, choosing not to follow trends or fads. Within MSF, we have a very honest and open approach to training and will often be heard saying there is no wrong or right way. Instructors will always have a unique way of teaching classes and as long as it’s safe and a benefit to fitness, this gives clients a great choice and variation.
Mark as a spin instructor is very different in his approach to how he teaches Wattbike (indoor bike) and changes again when working 1:1 or teaching TRX-Circuit group exercise classes.
“From when I first started working in the fitness industry, I realised that who I am as an individual is not going to work when teaching classes or training clients.”
To become a spin instructor involves a 1 day course and nothing more than basic knowledge of how to ride to music. After that, it’s your class – unless you go down the line of using commercially produced material and teaching to a set program. Well Mark is not one for following or simply learning material, so freelance classes where he designs and builds classes himself was the way forward for him.
Marks aim from day one was to deliver a class to a group but still keep it personal. To help people improve their fitness whilst also learning about various training methods. The only way to do this would be from a studio which wasn’t governed by others.
After many years of delivering what Mark feels was a ‘journey’ for the participants rather than a class, he had thoughts of a bigger picture… What if he could take spin, turn it into indoor bike and then add in that extra element which would take this class to another exciting level?
Mark had a Wattbike in his small PT studio at home and often used his own training, both indoors and out, to develop his classes. He thought ‘how great it would be to use Wattbike as spin bikes!’ This was just a dream but one day, this became a reality.
PT STUDIO – 2012
WATTBIKE STUDIO – 2015
Having a studio of 13 Wattbikes opened up endless possibilities. From teaching a spin style class to working pedal technique and then adding in rehab and the chance to use personal training zones such as heart rate and power. But with the added advantage of being able to download data from each session so we could check to see if the class we instructed really worked, allowing us to really improve each class.
But this is where it gets tough. How do we deliver a fun and enjoyable class and coach to power zones and at the same time, help people with rehab and include pedal technique, alongside downloading data for their personal use – all without putting people off because they feel it’s just too much, when really it’s just a great indoor bike class?
The easy answer is don’t do it and just do individual classes. But this brings further problems of filling classes and having limited time. So we went head on and designed a structured class format but with a relaxed and flexible approach. Those needing rehab would get information before the class; those wanting data would use the bikes with memory stick ports and the class then gets coached using RPE with hints towards power, so everyone gets out of it what they want.
But this can lead to further problems as those with power zones may not know enough to get the most from their session and start asking questions during the classes. This pushed us to a group performance coaching session, all based on personal zones and personal targets therefore, anyone wanting more power related training had access to it but could still do a standard bike class. It soon became apparent we had managed to achieve all that we wanted.
But that was not enough – it was time to progress and help everyone improve their fitness and for us to prove it’s possible. With over 20 bike classes per week and many clients doing 2-3 classes per week, we needed to make sure they never got the same class twice in one week. So a format was developed, based around clients and the level of ability. So for both cyclists and non-cyclists, the program was designed with progression each week – either adding time to an interval, reducing recovery or adding an extra set etc. This then gave clients the chance to use week one as a tester and get resistance and leg speed set up and then each week, using the same settings, see themselves progress. For those just doing the odd class, they get a great workout without realising that it’s a structured session built over 4 weeks. Throughout the warm up, we cover pedal technique. Throughout the main set, we focus on effort. On the recovery and cool down, we go back over the technique of pedalling and the benefits to cyclists and non-cyclists.
All this is not easy! Planning, preparing and constant review is necessary. But over time we have learnt new methods and changed what does not work. Now we have results to show for all the hard work from clients achieving their weight loss to winning running races, time trials and triathlon events.
By using simple data such as cadence (leg speed), MPH (speed) and power (watts), clients are kept motivated and focused and find achieving constant and specific efforts easier, leading to greater results.
The journey does not stop here – this is still just the beginning.